Andy Woolgar of Subsea 7, President of the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) raises the issue of elevating competence from the marine contracting sector's offshore workplace to onshore and management personnel and 'corporate' competence in his President's letter in the latest issue of IMCA's quarterly newsletter Making Waves.
"The standard components of qualifications, skills and experience that are demonstrated and assessed are harder to pin to a corporation," he writes. "But being tough does not mean it should not be done."
As background to these thoughts, he explains that IMCA members work hard to deliver safe and efficient projects. "Much of IMCA's delivery for members is in support of this aim. One aspect, competence, has increasing importance.
"IMCA provides a competence framework from which members can develop their own schemes across a common format that aids cross industry recognition. This is now freely available on IMCA's public website at www.imca-int.com along with other IMCA publications.
"When it first launched in 1999 the framework provided competence tables for 42 safety-critical positions. Since then a further 13 positions have been added and it will continue to be extended as required. The new positions are not all so safety-critical, but each is important in helping the contractor deliver a safe and efficient project," he explains.
"IMCA continues to encourage members to develop their own schemes and to enrol their staff. A piece of ongoing work which is nearing fruition covers freelance staff. Our industry has many itinerant workers so IMCA is developing freelance packs that such personnel can use to record their competencies, help organise their portfolios and facilitate on the job assessments.
"A strong link between IMCA and individual workers is through logbooks used by both permanent and freelance staff alike. IMCA has published 14 of them, the latest of which is for auditors and inspectors. It fits with the several standard audit formats that IMCA publishes but can be used for any audit, survey or inspection. Further logbooks are in the pipeline and they all contribute to recording competence."
Looking at reactions in the USA he explains: "After Macondo, the US authorities have been emphasising the skills and experience expected from personnel in the Gulf of Mexico. This is being handed down by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) through its Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) requirements. IMCA is working with the Bureau through the Offshore Operators Committee (OOC) to clarify what skills and experience should be expected and how it should be demonstrated in our sector by using the existing IMCA competence material.
"This (and related) work is what has raised the question of 'corporate' competence in my mind," he explains. "I look forward to feedback from throughout the industry."
In addition to providing documentation on competence, IMCA has held three competence events during 2011, in Aberdeen, Singapore and, earlier in September, in Houston.
Further information on IMCA's competence framework is at www.imca-int.com/core/profile/competence with a full list of competence-related publications at www.imca-int.com/core/ct/publications. Information is also available from IMCA at 52 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0AU, UK. Tel +44 (0)20 7824 5520; Fax: +44 (0) 7824 5521; and from imca[at]imca-int.com.